When it comes to drywall installation, a lot of people tend to get themselves hung up on the wrong things. Getting the stuff on the wall is generally the easiest part, all it takes is a few tools and a bit of care. If you’re even thinking about doing it yourself, give it a shot, you’ll be surprised at what you can pull off.
One thing to keep in mind, however, is that you might want to grab a friend to help you out. Drywall sheets can be quite heavy and a bit unwieldy for a single person to handle, but as long as you can muscle the stuff you’ve got a good shot at getting the whole project together.
You’ll need a few things to get started of course, but almost anyone who does DIY work around the house will have the tools.
The most important thing to get started with is the drywall itself. You’ll find a bewildering array of the stuff at the store, but there’s only a couple of things you’ll need to ask yourself in order to get the right type:
Is my house old enough to be using 3/8 inch sheetrock instead of ½ inch?
Is this in a bathroom, kitchen, or other room where exposure to water and excessive moisture is likely?
Make sure to check the drywall’s thickness of course, but if your house has been built in the last twenty years or so it’s virtually guaranteed to be ½ inch sheeting.
The easiest way to check is to remove a power switch or outlet’s cover plate and measure the drywall, you can do the same with a ducting register if the idea of getting near a power source scares you too much.
If the room is going to be wet, moist, humid, or otherwise getting it on with some good old fashioned water get moisture resistant drywall. You’ll save yourself a lot of trouble and future repairs by doing this.
Transport the sheets flat, even if you have to use a friend’s truck. Impact against drywall, especially unsupported drywall, causes damage quite easily and you can rest assured that the store isn’t going to give you a refund if you crack it with improper transportation methods.
You’ll also need to make sure you have the right tools. Don’t let contractors confuse you on this point, while some swear by certain expensive brands of screwgun or whatever else, you’ll be fine with almost anything.
You can easily get by with the following hardware and tools:
A Screwgun- Something with some torque is ideal, and you’ll find an impact gun is generally better than a drill for this but if you’re having to make the purchase you’ll find that the latter is what you want since it’ll give you more options for use.
A Razor Knife– Don’t go cheap on your razor knife. Even a good one won’t run you a lot of money and it’ll come in handy for everything you ever do with drywall. Cheap blades are fine, however, but the knife itself needs to be sturdy and well built.
A Keyhole Saw- These are ultra-handy for any kind of working with sheetrock, but they’re required if you’re going to do a wall with power outlets.
A Hammer- If everything goes well, you usually won’t need one. If you do end up needing it, however, pretty much nothing else is going to do the job. Any carpenter’s hammer will do just fine.
Drywall screws- Especially for the amateur, don’t even bother thinking about drywall nails. While they have their uses, the screws make the job much easier and more precise.’
Once you have all of the tools and your drywall together, it’s time to begin.
2. Removing the Old Drywall
There are a couple of different approaches to removing the previous wall.
The first is really, really simple. Grab a hammer and bash it out.
Be careful that you hit in areas where you won’t be smashing water lines, and while it might sound cathartic to destroy the entire wall in a fit of demolition fury this is a controlled process.
Make a whole in between two studs with the flat edge of the hammer and gradually reduce the piece through prying and strategic hits while being careful not to break anything that might be lurking. A small prybar can come in handy for over the studs, but a large flathead screwdriver will do the trick as well.
The other option is a bit less fun, but it’ll make a lot less of a mess.
Carefully locate the screws. They’ll almost always be covered with mud, and you’ll need to find each of them. This can easily be achieved by scraping about a quarter of an inch deep along the outside seams of the board. If it was installed properly, the screws along the length will be over the studs.
Once you’ve found them, grab a small chisel or large flathead screwdriver and chip them out until you see the head. Then unscrew them. Once you’ve pulled all the screws in the panel you can just chip out the seams and remove the board whole.
The second method takes a lot more time, but you’ll be able to avoid about ninety percent of the mess that comes with demoing the sheet whole.
Whichever method you use, check for nails and screws afterwards and remove them. If you don’t, you’re not going to have an easy time hanging the new sheet.
3. Hanging the New Drywall
Now that you’ve removed the old boards, it’s time to get hanging.
Place the new sheetrock where it can easily be screwed into frame. Hopefully your house has been studded properly, otherwise you’ll want to call a framer before you continue, and there are studs every sixteen to eighteen inches along the wall. Mark where they’re at on your sheetrock with a carpenter’s pencil, aiming for the centerline.
Now, prop the board up or have a friend hold it up for you while you get ready to screw it off. The first two screws should be at diagonal corners to immediately provide as much support as possible. After this, place the screws around the edges at six to eight inch intervals.
It might seem like a lot of screws, but you don’t want to deal with sagging or other problems down the road.
You’re not quite done yet, however, you’ll also need to clean up the edges with a razor knife. If you had to cut the drywall to size, it’s extremely important to remove all of the excess paper and anything that might block the next panel that’s going to be butted into it from fitting snugly.
Once you have it screwed in, you’ve successfully hung the sheet, after which you’ll have to get down to mudding and taping up the joints before you finish the wall.
4. Dealing With Obstacles
The main obstacles that you’re going to run into while putting up your new drywall are windows, switches and outlets. These are all easily dealt with, and a bit of forethought will save you a lot of effort in this area.
Measure the cut out you’ll need to make before you even bring the panel in. Be sure to measure the distance from the ceiling and the floors as well. Using a carpenter’s square make the cut out you’ll need.
The easiest way to do this, especially for outlets and switches is to drill a ¼ to ½ inch hole inside the rectangle and use the keyhole saw to get to the edges. If you give yourself 1/8 of an inch or so around the edges, you can even clean it up with the razor knife once you place the panel and get a perfect fit.
For windows using a hand-tool can be a bit tedious, and careful application of a power saw can be used. For the best results, drill a ½ hole at each corner so you don’t have to overshoot to remove the piece of sheetrock you’re cutting.
If you do end up shooting over the mark, you can mud it after you’re done but it’s always better to just be careful and avoid extra work later in the process. For outlets and switches it’s mostly a point of DIY pride, since the plates that cover them will be larger than the hole itself.
With care, you can have things perfect in a remarkably short amount of time.
Hanging drywall isn’t that hard, what you need is patience and precision. If you get frustrated, it might be best to leave the project for a few hours, or even overnight, to give yourself time to cool down. A hot head can make for some pretty impressive mistakes, but it’s definitely not going to be the impression you’re going for.
If you give it a shot yourself, the pride that comes from a job well done is well worth the time it’ll take.